Renee Writes

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Author Spotlight: Do You Believe in Legend? By Ani H. Manjikian

Welcome to another Friday Author Spotlight! This week I have Ani H. Manjikian with her science fiction novel, Do You Believe in Legend? The character, Joanna C. Mason, from the book will be joining us later, but first…

Born and raised in Southern California, the diagnosis of hydrocephalus at birth should have killed Ani, or worse, left her blank to the world. Her strength of spirit, parents’ love, and a miracle all combined to overcome that prognosis within nine months. From this almost impossible beginning, she has developed into all-around person with the technical knowledge and analytical mind of a programmer, creative and detailed orientation of a writer, and aesthetic instincts of a photographer.

Her writing career started when a friend in Cyprus made her promise to stop throwing away her writings because she thought they weren’t good enough. After returning to the States, she set out to finish a single horse story and get it published. However, the book, like the writer, needed time to mature.

While perfecting her craft, Ani graduated from San Francisco State with a BA in Industrial Arts and worked several jobs from retail sales to human resources project management. Her innate ability to learn new computer programs with minimal instruction and need to be creative led to her current long-term stint as a web designer and developer.

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About the Book

“Legend isn’t about people. It’s about pursuing a dream or higher ideal. About believing in something impossible and transforming the belief into reality through faith and hard work. The future is a legend written and unwritten.”

Jo Mason believes that creativity, spontaneity, and faith exist as definable words, but not actionable items. Negative consequences always follow the rare positive outcomes. It seems her destiny is surviving a chaotic world she can’t control. Hearing her own voice where she shouldn’t have leaves her wondering about her place in time.

Jeff has always been a part of her life, offering encouragements, wise words when she needed them, and many other things she can never completely thank him for. She knows he replaced her cousin who died saving his life. When she questions why he didn’t get to stay with his family, Jeff replies that without fixing the timeline everything she knows would be different.

When Jeff’s twin brother Randy falls into her lap, both literally and figuratively, Jo hopes he can give her a better answer. There is only one slight problem… He doesn’t remember anything about himself or his life and what he does, doesn’t help.

Together, the three of them learn that life isn’t about who or what you know, but who and what you care for.

Get it today on Amazon!

Keep reading for an interview with Joanna C. Mason from Do You Believe in Legend?:

Where were you born, and what was it like growing up there?

I was born in Southern California. Spent the first five years of my life in the high desert before my father assumed command of USMB Los Angeles, located at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains when I was five.

We had the typical pets as kids, dogs mostly. Then when moved on base and I was surrounded by horses, it was pure heaven. Living on a military base isn’t much different for a kid than living in a regular neighborhood. Just a little more security and having to check in with an adult when there’s an alert. Nothing ever came of those, so no one close to me died. (That would happen later in life as I moved up the ranks and made different career choices.)

USMBLA will always been my home. Sure I’ve gone off and served at other bases, but I always manage to make it back here. Though, there was one point in my life where I didn’t think I was going to, but then I wasn’t myself at the time. Will I spend the rest of my career here? Yeah, most likely. Because of the shadow in my head, I have a cap on my promotions, so I’ll end up retiring as a Captain and the CO of USMBLA when the time comes.

Did you have a close relationship with your family?

Yep, though it was a little strained for about nine years when I needed to prove myself after almost being killed by a horse. There’s my twin brother Jim, who’s is as calm and thoughtful as I am hot-headed. Bill, the quiet giant, is next. TJ, a perfectionist engineer. Michael and Tyrell, the other set of twins in the family. John, the youngest, who can make computers dance. Four stepbrothers, an uncle and aunt, stepfather, nephew, cousin, and son round out the close family.

Who is your enemy? What makes you enemies?

The Nolan clan. One of their relatives got in an argument with mine. Guns were drawn and shots fired. Neither man suffered a life threatening injury, yet someone found Charles Nolan dead in his room the next morning. Because of this, my relative received command of a cavalry unit that later became the United States Mounted Band (USMB).

It didn’t help that I was part of a peer group that held back Casper Nolan after he failed a simulation. Nor that I received the base he wanted because of I had seventy-two more hours experience than he did.

Until we solve the mystery of Charles Nolan’s death, my family is going to remain a target of the Nolans.

What are your goals? What would you like to achieve?

Finding enough ways to help the human race survive the crazy stupidity of the times we live in. I wish people would just realize that despite our differences in beliefs and the color of skin, we all bleed red. We also need to take better care of ourselves and the planet we live on. Not sure what’s it’s going to take to get those messages through to people’s thick skulls before it’s too late.

Of course, I have to be respectful of the USMB’s strict non-interference regs, so I can’t bend people to my peaceful will. I have to lead by example. And that’s hard sometimes, especially when I have my own doubts about humanity’s future.

What is your greatest fear? How did you overcome it?

For nine years, it was a paralyzing fear of horses. Got it after a rogue stallion almost killed me. It was really hard to deal with because I grew up with the noble creatures and loved everything about them. As the commanding officer of a large mounted base, they are part of my life.

Those nine years were very difficult to deal with, filled with self-doubt and a need to prove myself, I drove my family away. A few close friends stuck with me and helped me the bad times. I wouldn’t have overcome my fear, except for a set a really weird circumstances.

My base had been getting horses meant for another base. I had signed the transfer paperwork to handle yet another one and went for a walk in the woods. Everything was fine until this horse appeared on the path. I stood my ground, but I was freaking inside. Turns out the horse wasn’t doing much better.

His name is Dreamer’s Hope. He’s the son of the stallion who almost killed me. His past includes some serve abuse. Together, we overcame our fear of each other’s species and learned to trust one another. That trust saved both our lives.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about life?

That it’s precious. I learned this after an undercover op went south and I ended up serving as a mindless, emotionless, and soulless operative who thought about death like normal human beings think about breathing. Not very proud of that time in my life. I’m very lucky and grateful that I’m back to being me.

Who has been the greatest influence in your life?

My stepfather, Jason.


He took over after my parents died in a car wreck when I was eleven. He has always been someone I could go to with any problem. Part of his insight comes from visiting a starship from the future. Me and my family have never been in any less danger from him knowing about certain events in our lives. Still it has given him a wisdom beyond his years.

I remember him taking me and Jim out a few weeks after my parents’ death. He pointed to the sky and asked, “What do you see when you look up into the night sky?”

“Stars,” my brother replied. “Doesn’t everyone?”

Jason’s emphatic “No” surprised both of us while the rest of his answer inspired our imaginations. That night, we learned that Jason didn’t view the stars as a cosmic night light. He looked upon them as a challenge and an insight into humanity’s future.

Have you ever been in love?

Love has always been tricky for me. It’s always been about career and family first, so most of my dates have been of the hi, how are you? kind. Some have even managed to make it to some sort of meal out. After I that I haven’t had much luck. My one serious relationship ended with an argument and the death of my boyfriend.

What kind of clothing do you prefer to wear?

Unfortunately, being in the USMB, I’m stuck in a uniform for most of my waking hours. When I can get away with it, I love a pair of warm, fuzzy slippers, comfortable, loose fitting shirt, and a nice soft pair of sweats.

What do you own that would be hardest to part with?

Dreamer’s Hope. I’m not sure I really own him as he is an independent thinking horse registered to the USMB. Still, he’s his grandfather’s grandson. Sweet-tempered, but competitive, Day Dreamer was my lifelong companion before colic killed him. DH has many of his traits and attitude, despite Casper’s crazy attempt to turn him into a killer like his father.

We both understand deep-rooted fear and have healed each other from it. The day he dies is going to be hard. So hard that I’m not sure I will be the same afterwards.

What was your greatest achievement?

Winning the 2014 International Championships. Started a year after the end of World War II as a means of keeping the peace, the annual championship series test the mettle of teams through a series of equestrian and non-equestrian events. To earn the honor takes six rounds of competition for a California base.

Our run was marred by Casper’s need for revenge, so we were fighting him as much as competing against the other teams.

What do you regret most in your life?

The lives I took during my career. Most were by my shadow’s hand. A majority of Its victims were others like it that had lost control. Nothing can, or will, ever excuse what it did to six family members whose only transgression was coming home a few minutes too early.

Making up for those deaths is impossible, I know. Still I’m not proud of them and wish circumstances could have been different. I’ll live with the regret for the rest of my life.

If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?

Nothing. Who I am is based on my experiences and knowledge. If I didn’t have them, I might not be the same person. Sure there are a few I want to forget, or relive a different way, but that’s just regret talking. I’m not sure I’d like the person I’d be without the lessons they taught me.

Would you ever or have you ever lied? How do you feel about lying?

Lying, unfortunately, is part of being an USMB officer. There are times I know more about a situation than everyone else, so I have to bend the truth. Either by choice to protect them or because I’m under orders.

Although our family discourages one another from telling half-truths and lies, we expect secrets. The higher in rank or more sensitive the position, the more they permeate our lives. Even living by this mantra, explosions of truth are often a surprise.

If you had one day left to live, what would you do with your last day?

Go horseback riding with my family. We’d be together on the powerful and noble creatures we all love. Is there any better way to die? I think not!

Author Spotlight: Lady of the Tarot by Juli D. Revezzo

Welcome to this week’s Friday Author Spotlight! Today I have Juli D. Revezzo visiting with her novel, Lady of the Tarot.

Juli D. Revezzo loves fantasy and Celtic mythology and writing stories with all kinds of fantastical elements. She is the author of the Antique Magic series and the Paranormal Romance Celtic Stewards Chronicles series, Gothic fantasy romance, Lady of the Tarot, Victorian romance Watchmaker’s Heart, and more. She is also a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.

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About the Book


Having escaped the Reign of Terror, Emilie Maigny takes refuge in England and tries to come to grips with the life and loss she left behind. When her brother, Sinjon, returns, a terrifying evil swoops down upon her. Nightmares plague her, providing strange clues … but to what?

Scottish-born Linton has spent his entire life in luxury, whiling away the hours in intense study of the tarot. He knows the hidden meanings of the cards, but until he meets the lovely Emilie Maigny, he never guessed how important his study might be— to his life, and Emilie’s survival when terrible evil strikes.

A Cypher is all Emilie needs, but what is it? Is Linton the key? He may charm her heart—and he may be her only salvation.

Get it today on Amazon!


Keep reading for an interview with Emilie Maigny from Lady of the Tarot:

Where were you born, and what was it like growing up there?

Paris. And it was lovely! The city was beautiful, filled with intellectuals, poets, artists and thinkers of the age. I enjoyed visiting with my friends at their lovely homes and of course, all the parties we used to attend…before the revolution.

Do you have a close relationship with your family?

I used to. My brothers had their secrets, but I must admit they’ve grown more guarded since everything began falling apart in our country.

Who was your best friend growing up?

Other than my brothers Sinjon and Porter, I’d have to say my cousin Ursule.

Who is your enemy? What makes you enemies?

I never thought of myself as having enemies before, but since I came to live with my grandmother in Britain, I must say, Miss Roxanne Ivanhoe would definitely be one. What makes us enemies? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about the young lady makes my skin crawl.

Who do you most admire in your world? Why?

At the moment, I would say ma grand-mère. She’s been through a lot in her life, even before losing her son to the revolution, and still survived.

Tell us a little about your world, and where you fit in?

What can I say about our modern world? Men still run everything and even with Madam Wolstencraft’s book speaking of women’s rights, young women have only a few options open to them as far as what their ultimate place in the world is. It looks like I might marry an upstanding naval captain (if he proposes), but I must say, I’m not enthused about it. If I could make up my own mind on the subject, I might choose someone else. I might even forego marriage and move to the New World. Or somewhere else in Europe.

What was the most embarrassing moment in your life?

It must’ve been when my fiancé Éduard broke our engagement. Yes, that would have to be it.

What is your greatest fear? How will you overcome it?

My greatest fear is losing what’s left of my family, my brother Sinjon, ma grand-mère. How will I overcome? I’ll fight, but in the end, who can fight fate, no?

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about life?

Don’t trust the mob or anyone who your intuition says you shouldn’t!

What is the strangest situation you’ve ever found yourself in?

Having to flee from revolutionaries in the middle of the night. Also, as of late, I have had very strange dreams, almost premonitions, you might say.

Who has been the greatest influence in your life? Why?

Linton. He’s helped me so much lately, adjusting to life in England and making sense of the weird things I’ve been experiencing.

Do you have a secret you’ve never told anyone? Would you tell us?

The dreams I’ve had, apparently, according to my new friend Linton, they have something to do with tarot. I haven’t had much practice at it, because you understand, we usually have ma grand-mère standing over us, but I’m learning more about reading the cards–as much as I can. I know that revelation would infuriate my brother Sinjon, so I haven’t told him.

Have you ever been in love? How did that work out for you?

I think I am now, with Linton. How did it work out? Well, we’re still fighting for time together, so we shall see, won’t we?

What do you own that would be hardest to part with? Why?

My blue chalcedony necklace. I couldn’t part with it because it’s the last gift I received from my father before he disappeared.

Where can people find out more about you, and your author—and your novel, Lady of the Tarot?

They are most welcome to visit our (I should say Madame Juli D. Revezzo’s) website at:

Our, (pardon, I mean Juli’s ) novel Lady of the Tarot is available at…some store named Amazon.

(That store’s name sounds exotic, doesn’t it?)

Finally, thank you Mademoiselle Renee, for hosting Juli and I today. We hope your readers will enjoy Lady of the Tarot!

Author Spotlight – Hell Holes 2: Demons on the Dalton by Donald Firesmith

Welcome to this week’s Friday Author Spotlight! Today I have Donald Firesmith returning with the second novel in his series, Hell Holes 2: Demons on the Dalton.

A computer geek by day, Donald Firesmith works as a system and software engineer helping the US Government acquire large, complex software-intensive systems. In this guise, he has authored seven technical books, written numerous software- and system-related articles and papers, and spoken at more conferences than he can possibly remember. He is also proud to have been named a Distinguished Engineer by the Association of Computing Machinery, although his pride is tempered somewhat worrying whether the term “distinguished” makes him sound more like a graybeard academic rather than an active engineer whose beard is still more red than gray.

By night and on weekends, his alter ego writes modern paranormal fantasy, apocalyptic science fiction, action and adventure novels and relaxes by handcrafting magic wands from various magical woods and mystical gemstones. His first foray into fiction is the book Magical Wands: A Cornucopia of Wand Lore written under the pen name Wolfrick Ignatius Feuerschmied. He lives in Crafton, Pennsylvania with his wife Becky, his son Dane, and varying numbers of dogs, cats, and birds.

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About the Book

When hundreds of huge holes mysteriously appeared overnight in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle, geologist Jack Oswald picked Angele Menendez, his climatologist wife, to determine if the record temperatures due to climate change was the cause. But the holes were not natural. They were unnatural portals for an invading army of demons. Together with Aileen O’Shannon, a 1,400-year-old sorceress demon-hunter, the three survivors of the research team sent to study the holes had only one chance: to flee down the dangerous Dalton Highway towards the relative safety of Fairbanks. However, the advancing horde of devils, imps, hellhounds, and gargoyles will stop at nothing to prevent their prey from escaping. It is a 350-mile race with simple rules. Win and live; lose and die…

Get it today on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Createspace, IndiGo, Scribd, and Smashwords!

Keep reading for an interview with Aileen O’Shannon from the Hell Holes series:

Where were you born, and what was it like growing up there?

I was born a little over 1,700 years ago during the reign of Constantine the Great in a tiny village that no longer exists in what is now the county of Ballinasloe, Ireland. I lived with my mother and father, who was the village blacksmith and the strongest man in the whole village. When I was 12, they were killed by a hellhound. That is when I was I initiated into the Tutores Contra Infernum, an ancient secret order that protects humanity from demon incursions.

Did you have a close relationship with your family?

We loved each other very much, and it was extremely hard to lose them, leave my village, and join the order.

What is the happiest memory from your childhood?

Sharing lunch with my father at the smithy. He would often let me stay for a while so that I could watch him working and see the sparks fly as he hammered the glowing metal. He was so big and strong; he made me feel safe when the wolves howled in the nearby forests.

Who is your enemy? What makes you enemies?

My enemies are the demons that invade our world to kill and enslave people, often treating us a mere livestock and the subject of torture for their entertainment. It does not matter if they are devils, imps, gargoyles, or hellhounds. I hate them all.

Tell us a little about your world, and where you fit in?

Prior to Hell Day, I lived in Fairbanks, working as a reporter for the Daily News-Miner, a local newspaper. Secretly, I was a curatrix, or warrior sorceress of the Tutores Contra Infernum, responsible for protecting the people of Alaska from demon incursions.

Have you ever been in love? How did that work out for you?

Yes, many many times over the centuries. My first love was not a member of my order, and I had to keep our forbidden relationship a secret from my superiors in the Order. However when I eventually became pregnant, that secret became impossible to keep. Because I had broken my vows and risked exposing the existence of the Order, I was forced to choose between my first love and my baby. I refused to give up my child, and it was one of the hardest things I have ever done, watching him grow old and die while I remained young.

What kind of clothing do you prefer to wear?

I wear the clothing of the place and period, but with two small differences. Being incredibly old and not a little vain, I have amassed a sizable fortune which has allowed me to dress in the best quality clothes, whether that means designer dresses or the best in outdoor wear. I also have hidden pockets sewn inside the left forearm of any clothing that covers my arms so that I can keep my wand both secret and readily available should I need it in a hurry.

What was your greatest achievement?

Taking the war to the demons. By traveling through one of their portals to the demon home world, I helped spread the demon plague that turned the tide of the war and hopefully enabled their human slaves trapped in Hell to rebel against their masters.

Would you ever or have you ever lied? How do you feel about lying?

My life has been full of lies I have made to keep the existence of my Order secret from those who would envy our powers and long life. Hiding for centuries in plain sight as an ordinary mortal has made me an excellent, if solitary and lonely, liar.

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